5 Carolina Panthers who retired at the perfect time

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(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Luke Kuechly /

5. player. 87. LUKEKUECHLY. LB. CAROLINA PANTHERS. Scouting Report. Pick Analysis

Carolina Panthers Player No. 5: Luke Kuechly (LB)

While the Carolina Panthers were dealt a hammer blow with the news of Luke Kuechly’s shock retirement this offseason. There appears little doubt he has left at the perfect time.

This has nothing to do with production, which continued to be up there with the very best at the linebacker position. Kuechly’s health was a lingering concern in recent years. And stepping away after eight glittering seasons was the correct move.

The player doesn’t owe the Panthers anything. He has been a truly exceptional performer from the moment he arrived as the No. 9 overall pick in 2012. Kuechly won Defensive Player of the Year in only his second season. And his contribution also earned a place on the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 2010s.

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He was the heart and soul of Carolina’s defense thanks to his relentless style of play and ability to lead others. Kuechly displayed extraordinary intelligence on the field. And this resulted in five All-Pro selections and seven trips to the Pro Bowl.

In just eight seasons with the Panthers, Kuechly recorded 1,092 combined tackles, 690 solo tackles, 12.5 sacks, 75 tackles for loss, 31 quarterback hits, seven forced fumbles, 66 pass deflections, and 18 interceptions. Having Kuechly staying with the organization in his new role as a pro scout will be of use. But losing his presence during critical in-game situations will be badly felt.

This was the perfect time for Kuechly to retire, however tough it may have been. There is just no telling what another severe concussion would have done to his health. And the player can now focus on progressing his front-office career.

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